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Levelling Up

Volume 737: debated on Thursday 14 September 2023

1. What assessment she has made of the adequacy of her Department’s implementation of policies supporting levelling up. (906364)

I warmly welcome the new shadow ministerial team—it is a slimmed-down team from what we have been used to, but I welcome them all. My Department is focused on growing the economy by attracting global investment, promoting exports and creating the right regulatory business environment. Over the past five years we have supported more than 6,000 foreign direct investment projects, creating more than 280,000 new jobs across the UK. Just last week, the Department for Business and Trade supported Stellantis’s £100 million investment in an electric vehicle production plant in Ellesmere Port, showing the direct role we play in helping to level up across the regions and nations of the UK.

Like many hon. Members, during the recess I visited various sites in my constituency, including Langthwaite business park, which is an immensely successful business park with more than 50 businesses now employing almost 2,000 people. It is adjacent to two former pit villages, South Elmsall and South Kirkby, where deprivation is still deeply rooted. The people who live in those villages are not able to take advantage of the jobs created by Wakefield Council, Mohan De Silva and Karen Harrison. What Government programmes has the Secretary of State put in place, or can she put in place, to ensure there is a linkage between areas of deprivation and new jobs?

There is a lot that we are doing, and I am sorry to hear that the hon. Gentleman feels that villages in his constituency still are not able to access much of what we have given. The West Yorkshire devolution deal provided about £1.14 billion of investment and we also had a shared prosperity fund across West Yorkshire. I urge him to speak to his local council, because that is the vehicle through which many of these opportunities will be provided, but if he has a specific business issue that he thinks is affecting those companies and those villages, we are happy to look at it in more detail.

My home city of Manchester was built on export and trade, but, as a result of the Tories’ mismanagement of the economy, apathy towards the export industries and neglect of everywhere outside the M25, the value of exports from London is more than three times that of the north-west. Does the Secretary of State honestly believe that she and her colleagues are committed to levelling up the whole of the UK, or will she admit that the Tories do not care about the benefits of trade reaching everyone in the United Kingdom?

I fundamentally disagree with the hon. Gentleman. He mentions Manchester; since October 2022 we have invested £2.6 billion into projects across England and agreed landmark devolution deals for Greater Manchester. He should be speaking to the Mayor of Greater Manchester to find out exactly why all that we are doing is not reaching the people in his constituency.